28 Holiday TV Specials to Get Us in the Mood for the Season

Martha Sorren | Nov 21, 2019 TV
28 Holiday TV Specials to Get Us in the Mood for the Season
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Gwen Stefani taping the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree lighting
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There is so much Christmas movie and television show content to devour this holiday season. Let's see, there are beloved Hallmark Christmas movies to watch, new original holiday films and shows coming to Netflix, and also a ton of Christmas TV specials airing throughout the months of November and December this year. 

The holiday season means something different to every person, and no two people celebrate the same way with the same entertainment. Fortunately, there's a little something for everyone on cable TV, network TV, or even Netflix to watch this winter. In the end, everyone is sure to find something that suits them best.

Believe it or not, there are a ton of holiday TV specials (some began airing November 8) that will run all the way through Christmas day to ensure that we have something to watch almost every day leading up to December 25. It seems like every network has gotten in on the fun, with the standbys -- like ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS -- airing specials, and also wildcards, like HGTV. (The show airing on the latter network wants to make us inspired by (jealous of) other people's holiday home decor.) Never one to be left out, streaming site Netflix also has some specials coming, including several holiday baking competition shows.

In addition to baking competitions, there are holiday light show competitions, gift-wrapping competitions, original holiday films, musical specials, variety shows, and more coming soon to a TV screen near us. Don't miss a thing by checking out this handy schedule.

  • 'The Great British Baking Show: Holidays' (Season Two)

    The Great British Baking Show judges

    Premiered: November 8 on Netflix

    Contestants try to create the most delicious holiday desserts to show off to a panel of judges. Whether viewers want some Christmas goodies inspiration or just want to watch someone else bake for a while, this show's for them.

  • 'Nailed It! Holiday!' (Season Two)


    Premieres: November 22 on Netflix

    Nicole Byer is back to host another holiday season of Nailed It! The Netflix series takes three amateur bakers and puts them to the test with admittedly very tricky desserts to replicate. This show is the definition of "it's the thought that counts," because they pretty much never nail it. But the contestants try so hard and the end results are so funny that everyone ends up having a good time -- especially the viewers.

  • 'Wrap Battle'


    Premieres: November 25 on Freeform

    Wrap Battle is a whole new kind of holiday competition show. Instead of baking desserts to impress a panel of judges, the contestants on this series must perfectly wrap a gift. As anyone who's tried to wrap odd-shaped presents before knows, it's much harder than it looks.

  • 'Dolly Parton: 50 Years at the Opry'

    Dolly Parton
    Splash News

    Airs: November 26 on NBC

    Dolly Parton is celebrating her 50th year with the Grand Ole Opry, which has been showcasing country music for decades. To mark the occasion, Parton sang her greatest hits on the famous stage. A recorded concert version of her performance will air on NBC.

  • 'Ellen's Game of Games' Holiday Edition


    Airs: November 27 on NBC

    Ellen DeGeneres' wacky game show is celebrating the holidays this year with special themed games. The episode airs the night before Thanksgiving. 

  • 'Outrageous Holiday Houses'

    Lance Bass
    Splash News

    Airs: November 28 on HGTV

    Former NSYNC member Lance Bass hosts this show. It follows him across the country as he gives viewers tours of houses that go all out for the holidays. No one will want to miss the light displays these homes have.

  • 'The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration'

    Jesse Palmer and Daisy Duck at Disney World
    Splash News

    Airs: November 28 on ABC

    This holiday special is a taped recording of the magical Disney celebration that takes place in the Disney World park each year. Major musicians perform, celebrities turn out, and the whole park is transformed into a winter wonderland for the special event.

  • 'Merry Happy Whatever'


    Premieres: November 28 on Netflix

    This new Netflix series follows a musician trying to impress his girlfriend's family over a 10-day Christmas vacation. It's one of the streaming site's first holiday-themed live action series, and it stars the likes of Dennis Quaid, Ashley Tisdale, and more.

  • 'Sugar Rush Christmas'


    Premieres: November 29 on Netflix

    Unlike Nailed It!, Sugar Rush is a Netflix baking competition show where the contestants are actually highly skilled. Instead, the challenge for them is completing complicated desserts in a time crunch. Expect plenty of holiday goodies in the Christmas version of the series.

  • 'The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show'


    Premieres: November 29 on Amazon Prime Video

    Popular singer Kacey Musgraves has her own Christmas show on Amazon Prime this year. It's basically a holiday variety show with musical performances, celebrity appearances, and more. Notable A-listers who can be spotted in the special include Kendall Jenner, Camila Cabello, Lana Del Ray, and more.

  • 'Making It' 

    Nick Offerman and Amy Poehler in Making It

    Premieres: December 2 on NBC

    This Nick Offerman and Amy Poehler-hosted series returns in December. Since it's airing so close to Christmas, expect some holiday-themed crafting tasks for the competitors. 

  • 'The Great Christmas Light Fight'


    Premieres: December 2 on ABC

    This series is hosted by Trading Spaces star Carter Oosterhouse and world famous interior designer Taniya Nayak. Each week families compete to have the best Christmas lights display to see who can take home the cash prize. They're judged on creativity, design, and, of course, amount of Christmas spirit.  

  • 'CMA Country Christmas'

    Trisha Yearwood at the CMA Awards
    Splash News

    Airs: December 3 on ABC

    Trisha Yearwood hosts this year's CMA Country Christmas, which is a special gathering of a ton of country musicians. They'll get on stage to perform everyone's favorite Christmas songs with their own country spin.

  • 'The Moodys'


    Premieres: December 4 on Fox

    Based on the Australian show of the same name, The Moodys follows a family's reunion during Christmas and all the comedy and drama that can come with that kind of scenario. 

    Denis Leary and Elizabeth Perkins star.

  • '87th Annual Christmas in Rockefeller Center'

    Gwen Stefani performing at the 2019 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting
    Splash News

    Airs: December 4 on NBC

    The annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree will be broadcast for viewers across the nation on December 4. In addition to the tree's lighting, the holiday special will feature musical performances from stars like Gwen Stefani and more.

  • 'Same Time, Next Christmas'


    Airs: December 5 on ABC

    This holiday movie stars Glee's Lea Michele and The Vampire Diaries' Charles Michael Davis as star-crossed lovers. The two meet as children during a Hawaiian Christmas vacation and reconnect years later.

  • 'Beat Shazam' Holiday Edition


    Airs: December 9 on Fox

    Jamie Foxx's "name that tune" game show is doing a holiday-themed episode in December. For the special occasion, Foxx will become "Santa Jamie," and it's likely that the songs contestants have to guess will be Christmas melodies.

  • 'Ellen’s Greatest Night of Giveaways'

    Ellen DeGeneres
    Splash News

    Premieres: December 10 on NBC 

    For three nights in December, Ellen DeGeneres will go on a gift-giving spree. Celebs including Michelle Obama, Jennifer Aniston, Chrissy Teigen, and more, will join Ellen as she gives everyday Americans the surprises of a lifetime. TV Line reported that Ellen is already warning viewers that it'll be a heartwarming, tear-inducing television event.

  • 'The Masked Singer' Holiday Edition


    Airs: December 11 on Fox

    The Masked Singer is a show where celebrities, hidden under masks, sing and judges try to guess who they are. For the holiday episode, expect plenty of Christmas songs and dance routines to make their way to the stage.

  • 'The Great American Baking Show: Holiday Edition'


    Premieres: December 12 on ABC

    This is yet another competition show where contestants will tackle holiday desserts to try to prove their baking merit. It's sure to make viewers hungry, so grab a pie to eat in advance, if possible.

  • 'A Legendary Christmas with John and Chrissy'

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    grossssssssss, mommmmm

    A post shared by chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) on

    Airs: December 12 on NBC

    A Legendary Christmas with John and Chrissy first aired in 2018, so this is just a repeat broadcast. It was a holiday-themed variety show hosted by John and Chrissy, their families, and tons of their celebrity friends. 

    Didn't catch it last year? Don't miss it this time around.

  • 'Disney Channel Holiday Party @ Walt Disney World'

    Matthew Morrison
    Splash News

    Airs: December 13 on Disney Channel

    Glee's Matthew Morrison hosts this musical special that will feature star-studded performances in Disney World and on the Disney cruise ship. Can't make it to a Disney park for the holidays this year? This is the next best thing.

  • 'Good Trouble' Holiday Special


    Airs: December 16 on Freeform

    The Good Trouble holiday episode is two hours long. According to People magazine, it's likely to reunite some fan-favorite characters from The Fosters, of which Good Trouble is a spin-off. It'll be fun for viewers to see all those people together again on their TV screens.

  • 'Holidays with the Houghs'

    Julianne Hough and Derek Hough
    Splash News

    Airs: December 16 on NBC

    Former Dancing with the Stars pros (and siblings) Derek and Julianne Hough host this holiday special that will feature Christmassy musical and dance performances, according to Deadline. They'll also bring along some of their celebrity friends for the ride, making for an A-list night all about Christmas.

  • 'Kids Say the Darndest Things' Holiday Edition

    Tiffany Haddish in Kids Say the Darndest Things

    Airs: December 22 on ABC

    Comedian Tiffany Haddish hosts this show, which features children answering questions in that classic hilarious, honest kid way. (Every mom knows what we mean.) For the holiday-themed episode, Haddish will likely be asking Christmas-related questions -- and we can't wait to hear what the children will have to say.

  • 'A Home for the Holidays With Idina Menzel'

    Idina Menzel
    Splash News

    Airs: December 22 on CBS

    In this special, Broadway (and Frozen) star Idina Menzel will sing songs from her new holiday album. She'll also be joined by other celebrity guest performers like Adam Lambert and Kelly Rowland to bring tons of Christmas cheer to CBS.

  • 'A Christmas Story Live!'


    Airs: December 24 on Fox

    On Christmas Eve, Fox is rebroadcasting the 2017 live performance of A Christmas Story. The musical remake of the classic holiday movie recreates all the best moments from the original, which means the leg lamp is very much a star of the show.

  • 'Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade'


    Airs: December 25 on ABC

    Every year ABC airs a Christmas parade that's taped inside the parks. It's filled with fantastical floats, character and celebrity appearances, and plenty of holiday cheer. Before (or after) unwrapping presents this year, give it a watch.

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